Can We Die Healthy

By: Rabbi Yisrael Baron

(Published June 4th, 2012 Sunny Isles Beach Community Newspapers)


Yellow lights at intersections seem a lot shorter than they used to be when I was a kid. I am convinced that they make those lights shorter so they can catch you with those red light cameras. When I told my kids about my thoughts, my daughter challenged me. She said that maybe time goes by quicker as you age, so you experience the yellow light to be shorter, whereas in reality nothing has changed.

Does that mean I am having fun? Because they say that time flies when you’re having fun.

Or maybe it’s more like a great line I once read. “Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end… the quicker it goes.”

As time indeed does feel like it is going by at a quicker pace, we need to learn the tools to manage time properly. I have realized that if I want to manage my time, I need to respect it for what it is.

Although you cannot see time with a physical eye, because it is more abstract than any physical entity, it is helpful if you can visualize time as a physical space, with a beginning and an end. Then you chose to fill this space of time with whatever you desire. Now remember, since time is moving, if you don’t fill it as it comes, the opportunity is gone forever.

“What did I do today?” “How did my day fly by so quickly?” Sound familiar?

It is helpful to visualize that the activities you put into the space of your time are like fog or smoke. No matter how much space you give that fog or smoke, whether large or small, it always expands or contracts to fill the space into what it is placed. It’s much the same way with the space of time. Whatever you put into a span of time, whether big or small, trivial or great, it will expand to fill that space.

A friend of mine prays that he should die healthy. He doesn’t want to live through the misery of winding down with ailing health. Imagine dying like that: healthy one day, and gone the next day, with absolutely no warning. It happens all the time. But hoping for this type of sudden death deprives us a particular perspective on life. There would be no time to get really serious about life. Ironically, our nature is that we take things for granted, and only appreciate something when it is limited or is taken away from us altogether.

So I asked myself, “Why should we wait to be frail, when the opportunities are fewer to live life to the fullest? What if I lived as if this was the last week, month, or year of my life? Would things be different? Yes, there would certainly be more urgency, to accomplish what is important. All distractions would no longer be able to compete for my time. My order of priorities will emerge and make itself clear very quickly. Once and for all, the little voice of self-consciousness and that inner critic who voices self-doubt would be silenced forever… That’s why we are told to consider every day as if it was our last.

I wonder, are we capable of doing just that?